Nov. 2013 To-Do List: Western Mountains & High Plains

Home Depot

THD-tools-pegboard-trowels-300x300As our outdoor chores slow down, assess what worked and what didn’t work in this year’s garden. Do you want to experiment with new tomato varieties next spring? Add a rose bed, or grow strawberries? Take an inventory of seeds and seed starting supplies, and sketch out new garden areas you want to add. Take some time to clean, organize and winterize your tools. Coat wooden handles of rakes, shovels, and hand tools with one part linseed oil and one part turpentine to help them last longer. Run your lawn mower until the fuel tank is empty, or use an additive to help keep moisture from damaging the engine. Take power tools for repairs and servicing now, before other gardeners rush to do the same next spring.

  • On mild, dry days, look closely for aphids that may be infesting your evergreens, shrubs, perennials, or trees. Often a blast of water from the garden hose is enough to knock them off.
  • We hope you’re following our series on stretch gardening, so you dried and preserved some flowers and foliage from your yard to make into holiday gifts and decor. If you didn’t, no worries. You can substitute commercially dried or silk flowers. Look through our projects and start soon to get a jump on the season.
  • Keep adding organic matter to your garden soil to improve it. Use shredded leaves, compost, well-rotted manure, and dried clippings from lawns that have not been treated with weed killers. Till the organic matter in, but only when your garden soil is dry. Don’t worry about raking the dirt smooth. Winter rains will help break down clumps.
  • Once the ground is consistently cold, mulch around perennials, using evergreen boughs, straw, shredded leaves, or bark. The mulch should help protect your plants from snow, but still allow for good air circulation. Mulch also helps keep the soil from heaving, or alternating between freezing and thawing, which often leaves roots exposed.
  • If your clay pots are encrusted with minerals or salts from fertilizers, soak them in water for a few hours, and scrub with steel wool and a little dish soap. Rinse well and allow to air dry.
  • Clay and ceramic pots can crack in cold weather. Store them in a location that stays above freezing.
  • Those tiny pests flying around your indoor plants may be fungus gnats. Try cutting back on watering, since they like damp soils. Houseplants don’t usually need as much water during the winter anyway.
  • Do you plan to buy a living Christmas tree? Dig the hole before the ground freezes. Cover the hole with a board so no one takes a fall. Keep your tree indoors no more than 3 to 5 days to prevent it from breaking dormancy.
  • Rake and clean up fallen fruits from underneath trees. Dispose of any plant parts that show signs of pests or diseases.
  • If storms leave broken tree branches, trim back the ragged edges until you have a smooth border of healthy tissue. It’s not necessary to seal the cuts. Sealant doesn’t promote healing and can lead to decay.
  • If you haven’t already done so, spread compost over the garden bed, along with shredded leaves raked from the lawn. Start a new compost pile.
  • Save the dried seeds from black-eyed Susans to sow. Leave some dried seed heads on coneflowers and ornamental grasses. Hungry birds will appreciate them when natural food supplies dwindle.
  • Drain and store garden hoses and sprinklers. Use an air compressor to blow out water standing in the lines of your irrigation system.
  • Wait until next season to prune boxwoods and roses. Pruning now would stimulate new, tender growth that would be damaged in freezing weather.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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